Young Bangla’s recent recognition a big boost
The University of Dhaka, hotbed of Bengali nationalism since the language movement of the 1950s, challenged the restraint of military rule when the Bengali New Year began in 1989.
General Ershad, the second general to become the head of state, had established Islam as the state religion only a year ago. The spirit of the liberation war faced the challenge of an army-backed fundamentalist turnaround that sought to bring back the ghost of Pakistan.
It was then that the Institute of Fine Arts of the University of Dhaka imagined the “Mongol Shobhajatra | (which loosely translates to “Procession for the Welfare”) on the theme of the cultural heritage of the country. its underlying message was to the subtle but strong Ershad junta.
The procession symbolized a secular, non-communal Bangladesh, in which people from all walks of life participated. This comprehensive initiative challenged the demonstrative Pakistani religiosity of military leader Hussain Muhammad Ershad, who made Islam the state religion.
Mongol Shobhajatra has met resistance from fundamentalists since its inception.
Even the celebration of the Bengali New Year was attacked by bombings, under the BNP Jamaat regime, as Pakistani-inspired Islamists sought to erase the markers of nationalism and secular Bengali linguistic culture, upon which rests. the Bangladesh building.
Opinion leaders of secular Bengali culture – writers, bloggers, publishers, even folk singers – have been mercilessly killed.
But the attraction of Mangal Shobhajatra has grown steadily in parallel with the struggle for democracy which toppled the military regime and finally the Islamist alliance of BNP and Jamaat e Islami.
From Dhaka where it performed for the first time, Mongolian Shobhajatra has spread to the districts where it is now held every Bangla New Year.
It is now a cultural marker of Bengali nationalism, an integral part of Bangladesh’s festival calendar, an opportunity to showcase vibrant art and floral designs that add to Bengali life.
Mangal Shobhajatra was quickly inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List.
It was a cause for celebration for the liberals in Bengali society who had maintained it year after year.
Professor Nisar Hossain, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University, was one of the masterminds responsible for the worldwide recognition of Mongol Shobhajatra as a cultural marker of Bengali life.
Today, Professor Hossain’s efforts were recognized by the nation when he conferred the Pathfinder of 50 Award, on the occasion of Bangladesh’s Golden Jubilee of Independence.
The Pathfinder of 50 was presented this year by Young Bangla alongside its usual Joy Bangla Youth Award, which recognizes young change makers in Bangladesh. The idea was to recognize those who have contributed to Bangladesh in the past and those who are doing so now with their brilliant ideas.
Nisar Hossain was moved upon receiving the award saying: âMongol Shobhajatra was an initiative to rekindle the spirit of the liberation war which led to the slogan Joy Bangla, the spirit which led to the birth of Bangladesh, the spirit they tried to erase forever by assassinating the Father of the Nation and his family on August 15th. “
“The spirit which inspires us to organize Mongol Shobhajatra is the same spirit which pushed our nation to fight for independence. A prize awarded on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of this independence is the best achievement to be achieved. can aspire, “he said on television. interview where he attacked heavily those who want to sweep the lay and non-community spirit at the heart of the formation of Bangladesh.
Nisar Hossain has attacked those who oppose the installation of statues of the father of the nation, who refuse to hoist the national flag in their institutions and who want to change the national anthem – the same district which spits venom on YouTube and other platforms against Mongolian Shobhajatra continuously.
âOur institute of fine arts itself encountered obstacles at birth. These artists were involved in the linguistic movement. In all political and cultural movements, they have supported the spirit of the Bangladesh Liberation War, âhe said.
Prof Hossain said Bangladesh is no exception in a world where religious obscurantism threatens the secular spirit.
âBut it is encouraging to see how the Mongolian Shobajatra has spread and is even seen in many parts of West Bengal,â he added.
Professor Hossain said that Mongol Shobhajatra is not limited to Pahela Baishakh.
Mongol Shobhajatra is a spirit. It is a cultural and social movement. By the time he was appointed Mongol Shobhajatra, it took on a political character. “
He said the event is also supported by Chhayanaut and other institutions which through social and political movements have supported the non-communal spirit of Bangladesh.
Cultural activists played a role in his transition from Baishakhi Shobhajatra to Mongol Shobhajatra, Hossain said.
âWe must not forget that the biggest damage to Bangladesh has been inflicted by Ershad, starting with introducing our state religion until Friday weekend. These were not present even during the days of Pakistan.
Professor Hossain went on to say, âWhen we felt that Ershad was there to ruin the mind of Bangladesh, Baishakhi Shobhajatra was transformed into Mongolian Shobhajatra within a year. Two people helped him get a political characteristic – Waheedul Haq and Imdad Hossain. They were very close to the artists. “
âThe first President of Bangladesh Charushilpi Sangsad Rafiqun Nabi and others were also with us. But there was a lot of resistance when we started. Even teachers from different departments at Dhaka University threatened us. Now all are supporting Mongol Shobajatra and joining him, âhe added.
But Nisar Hossain is aware of the “loss of cultural space” in rural areas where syncretic folk songs of the Marfoti or Murshidi variety have been replaced by increasingly harsh Waz. A space that must be reclaimed if Bangladesh is to grow in the true spirit that led to its birth.